Tag Archive: consumer spending

August Retail Sales Surprise To The Upside, Because They Were Down?

According to the movie The Princess Bride, the worst classic blunder anyone can make is to get involved in a land war in Asia. No kidding. The second is something about Sicilians and death. There is also, I’ve come to learn, an unspoken third which cautions against chasing down and then trying to break down seasonal adjustments in economic data.Some things are best left just as they are published.

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Inflation Isn’t Just The Outlier, The Inflation In It Is, Too

Following the same recent pattern as the BLS and its CPI, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA) PCE Deflator ran up hotter in May 2021 than its already high increase during April. The latter’s headline consumer basket rose 3.91% year-over-year, its fastest pace since August 2008.

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Spending Here, Production There, and What Autos Have To Do With It

While the global inflation picture remains fixed at firmly normal (as in, disinflationary), US retail sales by contrast have been highly abnormal. You’d think given that, the consumer price part of the economic equation would, well, equate eventually price-wise.

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Uncle Sam Was Back Having Consumers’ Backs

American consumers were back in action in January 2021. The “unemployment cliff” along with the slowdown and contraction in the labor market during the last quarter of 2020 had left retail sales falling backward with employment. Seasonally-adjusted, total retail spending had declined for three straight months to end last year.

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Consumers, Producers, and the Unsettled End of 2020

The months of November and December aren’t always easily comparable year to year when it comes to American shopping habits. For a retailer, these are the big ones. The Christmas shopping season and the amount of spending which takes place during it makes or breaks the typical year (though last year, there was that whole thing in March and April which has had a say in each’s final annual condition).

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Consumers, Too; (Un)Confident To Re-engage

There is a lot of evidence which shows some basis for expectations-based monetary policy. Much of what becomes a recession or worse is due to the psychological impacts upon businesses (who invest and hire) as well as workers being consumers (who earn and then spend).

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Extending the Summer Slowdown

A big splurge in September, and then not much more in October. While it would be consistent for many to focus on the former, instead there is much about the latter which, for once, is feeding growing concerns. Retail sales, American consumer spending on goods, has been the one (outside of economically insignificant housing) bright spot since summer

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Personal Income and Spending: The Other Side

The missing piece so far is consumers. We’ve gotten a glimpse at how businesses are taking in the shock, both shocks, actually, in that corporations are battening down the liquidity hatches at all possible speed and excess. Not a good sign, especially as it provides some insight into why jobless claims (as the only employment data we have for beyond March) have kept up at a 2mm pace.These are second order effects.

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We All Know Who’s On First, But What’s On Second?

It wasn’t entirely unexpected, though when it was announced it was still quite a lot to take in. On September 1, 2005, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the nation’s personal savings rate had turned negative during the month of July. The press release announcing the number, in trying to explain the result was reduced instead to a tautology, “The negative personal saving reflects personal outlays that exceed disposable personal...

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US Sales and Production Remain Virus-Free, But Still Aren’t Headwind-Free

The lull in US consumer spending on goods has reached a fifth month. The annual comparisons aren’t good, yet they somewhat mask the more recent problems appearing in the figures. According to the Census Bureau, total retail sales in January rose 4.58% year-over-year (unadjusted). Not a good number, but better, seemingly, than early on in 2019 when the series was putting out 3s and 2s.

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Three Straight Quarters of 2 percent, And Yet Each One Very Different

Headline GDP growth during the fourth quarter of 2019 was 2.05849% (continuously compounded annual rate), slightly lower than the (revised) 2.08169% during Q3. For the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) puts total real output at $19.07 trillion, or annual growth of 2.33% and down from 2.93% in 2018. Last year was weaker than 2017, the second lowest out of the six since 2013.

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China Enters 2020 Still (Intent On) Managing Its Decline

Chinese Industrial Production accelerated further in December 2019, rising 6.9% year-over-year according to today’s estimates from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). That was a full percentage point above consensus. IP had bottomed out right in August at a record low 4.4%, and then, just as this wave of renewed optimism swept the world, it has rebounded alongside it.

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China Data: Something New, or Just The Latest Scheduled Acceleration?

The Chinese government was serious about imposing pollution controls on its vast stock of automobiles. The largest market in the world for cars and trucks, the net result of China’s “miracle” years of eurodollar-financed modernization, for the Chinese people living in its huge cities the non-economic costs are, unlike the air, immediately clear each and every day.

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If The Best Case For Consumer Christmas Is That It Started Off In The Wrong Month…

Gone are the days when Black Friday dominated the retail calendar. While it used to be a somewhat fun way to kick off the holiday shopping season, it had morphed into something else entirely in later years. Scenes of angry shoppers smashing each other over the few big deals stores would truly offer, internet clips of crying children watching in horror as their parents transformed their local Walmart into Thunderdome.

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Three (Rate Cuts) And GDP, Where (How) Does It End?

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it will now pause – for a second time, supposedly. Remember the first: after raising its benchmark rates apparatus in December while still talking about an inflationary growth acceleration requiring even more hikes throughout 2019, in a matter of weeks that was transformed into a temporary suspension of them.

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Retail Sales’ Amazon Pick Up

The rules of interpretation that apply to the payroll reports also apply to other data series like retail sales. The monthly changes tend to be noisy. Even during the best of times there might be a month way off trend. On the other end, during the worst of times there will be the stray good month. What matters is the balance continuing in each direction – more of the good vs. more of the bad.

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Globally Synchronized, After All

For there to be a second half rebound, there has to be some established baseline growth. Whatever might have happened, if it was due to “transitory” factors temporarily interrupting the economic track then once those dissipate the economy easily gets back on track because the track itself was never bothered.

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Global Doves Expire: Fed Pause Fizzles (US Retail Sales)

Before the stock market’s slide beginning in early October, for most people they heard the economy was booming, the labor market was unbelievably good, an inflationary breakout just over the horizon. Jay Powell did as much as anyone to foster this belief, chief caretaker to the narrative. He and his fellow central bankers couldn’t use the word “strong” enough.

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Retail Sales In Bad Company, Decouple from Decoupling

In a way, the government shutdown couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. As workers all throughout the sprawling bureaucracy were furloughed, markets had run into chaos. Even the seemingly invincible stock market was pummeled, a technical bear market emerged on Wall Street as people began to really consider increasingly loud economic risks.

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Downturn Rising, No ‘Glitch’ In Retail Sales

You just don’t see $4 billion monthly retail sales revisions, in either direction. Advance estimates are changed all the time, each monthly figure will be recalculated twice after its initial release. Typically, though, the subsequent revisions are minor rarely amounting to a billion. Four times that?

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